Mabel Carter Glidden
Mabel Carter was born October 23, 1871, in DeKalb. Her father, Orlando Carter, and mother, Huldah White, were married in 1855. They began farming and one of their activities was producing cheese. Mabel remembered her industrious mother turning and greasing the large, round cheeses daily.
By 1880 Orlando retired from farming and the family, which now included seven children, moved into town. Mabel’s father decided to open a livery stable at Third and Locust Streets. Mabel’s mother was active in the Woman’s Christian Temperance Union and once entertained the organization’s founder, Frances Willard, at the Carter home.
Mabel attended a DeKalb public grammar school and then entered Waterman Hall, an Episcopal school for girls in Sycamore. It was here that she had her love of art fostered. Mabel furthered her art studies at the Art Institute, where she attended classes for three years, but received no degree, as this was not yet offered. In 1893 she worked for many months on the decorating of the Children’s Building at the Columbian Exposition in Chicago. This structure was designed as a comfort station for the care of as many as 100 children, whose parents attended the Fair.
John W. Glidden, son of Mary and Josiah Glidden, married Mabel in 1896 or 1897. It was reported in local newspapers that the couple were the “ideal entertainers” of DeKalb. On a summer’s eve in 1902, they threw a “moonlight dancing party” for 200 of their friends. Guests danced the night away on a wooden floor placed in front of the house, with the DeKalb Concert Band providing the music. Sandwiches, coffee, nut ice cream, and fancy wafers were served.
Soon after his Uncle Joseph’s death in 1906, John moved with Mabel and the family to the Glidden homestead. Their family would eventually include five children: Nansen, Carter, Doris, Jerrold, and Jessie.
What is now the Glidden Campus Florist was started by Mabel in 1925 when she began selling vegetable plants grown in a small lean-to greenhouse. In 1936 a 25 x 40 foot greenhouse was built, allowing flowers, including perennials, to be sold as well as vegetables. Another greenhouse was added in 1941, and in 1966 the current flower shop was built. The business was sold to the Hansen family in 1975.
Like Annie Glidden, Mabel was a charter member of the Library Whist Club and the DeKalb Garden Club. Mabel never lost her love of gardening and could be seen tending her flowers in the front yard of the homestead until she was more than 90 years old. Mabel died in June of 1967, at the age of 95.